<br /> Lee Letter: n316

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Unknown

Dear Sir,

Accept my thanks for your favor of the 1st which I received by this post
only. The inclosed paper will give you all the military news that
yesterday arrived to Congress.1 Our enemies
have been amazingly industrious (as I think wickedness ever is) in
Canada, coming out, contrary to all expectation, with 4 times our
Marine force on Lake Champlain. The consequence was as you will see,
our people bravely maintained the unequal contest, conducting
themselves with a valor that has extorted applause even from their
enemies, and which certainly deserved a better fortune. Carleton is now
Master of the water, but we do not discover any great advantage that
will result to him from that possession for this Campaign, as we have
an Army equal to his at Ticonderoga, and the Season is fast approaching
when no operations can be conducted on Lake Champlain, at least by
means of Vessels. The Generals Washington & Howe are maneuvering on
the ground above Kings bridge, each endeavoring to out flank the other.
In the course of these operations, a few days since, two opposite
Brigades met each other, when a very hot contest arose between the
enemy and these New England Batallions, and which ended by driving the
British Troops back to their main body. The General says, “our Men
behaved with great coolness and intrepedity.” Private letters say we
lost 30 men and the enemy 150 at the least. Gen. Mercer informs us that
150 Sail of Ships came in to the enemy from Sea last Saturday. That the
whole power of Great Britain is now exerted against us is most certain,
and that it behooves us to strain every nerve in every part of America
to oppose them is equally clear; or else Slavery the most ignominious
will surely be our lot. We must Cast Cannon, make powder, build Ships
and Forts, and raise Armies with unremitting zeal and industry. Cannot
we be as brave and industrious in the cause of liberty & virtue, as
they are in Vice and the establishment of human Slavery? Let us lay
aside every private consideration, and press the war with force and
union. We shall do every thing in our power to procure foreign
assistance, and I think a general war in Europe is not far off. May
Heaven prosper your righteous consultations and give success to the
virtuous cause of America. Farewell.

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio.

1 For the various letters containing military intelligence that were read in
Congress on October 21, see JCC, 6:889 – 91. Benedict Arnold’s October
12 letter to General Gates describing the October 11 engagement
between the Lake Champlain fleets and Robert H. Harrison’s letter to
President Hancock reporting the October 18 skirmish at East Chester,
N.Y., are in Am. Archives, 5th ser. 2:1038 – 39, 1137 – 38.